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Raia v. Illinois Tool Works Inc.

December 21, 2007

ROBERT RAIA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ILLINOIS TOOL WORKS INC., D/B/A/ HOBART CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hurley, Senior District Judge

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

Plaintiff Robert Raia ("Plaintiff" or "Raia") commenced this action alleging that he was constructively discharged from his position with Defendant Illinois Tool Works ("Defendant" or "ITW") due to the intolerable working conditions to which he was subjected in retaliation for his complaints of discrimination.*fn1 Presently before the Court is Defendant's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted.

Background

The following facts are taken from the parties' submissions and are undisputed unless noted otherwise.

ITW Food Equipment Corp is headquartered in Ohio and manufactures, distributes, and services commercial food preparation equipment. It is an unincorporated division of Defendant. Plaintiff began working as a field service technician in 1989 for a company that was subsequently purchased by ITW. Plaintiff repairs commercial restaurant equipment working out of ITW's Commack, New York branch. Plaintiff reported to Paul Todoro ("Todoro"), the branch manager, who in turn reported to Don Stairs ("Stairs"), ITW's Regional Manager for Service.

Plaintiff claims he was retaliated against for standing up for Anthony Garnier ("Garnier"), a fellow employee. In 2001 Plaintiff allegedly witnessed discriminatory treatment of Garnier, who is of Haitian descent, and complained to Todoro about it. When the conduct did not cease, Plaintiff attempted to speak to Stairs about "injustices." After three months of trying to contact him, Plaintiff finally spoke to Stairs in March 2002. Stairs allegedly refused to take any action and told Plaintiff not to contact the main office. Shortly after his complaint to Todoro, Plaintiff began to be "harassed," which harassment continued after Garnier's employment terminated in December 2001.

Plaintiff alleges the following acts of retaliation lead to his constructive discharge:

* Plaintiff received poor performance evaluations in November 2001 and March 2002.

* In or about late 2001, Todoro threatened Plaintiff with his job.

* In January 2002, Todoro and another employee wedged Raia in his truck and refused to let him move and said: "You know, a job like this you could really get hurt. You're dealing with electricity, with gears. You could really get hurt." "You never know where its going to come from."

* In January 2002, Todoro put Raia on a "Performance Development Program" whereby his performance would be reviewed every two weeks for two months. Under the program, if performance did not meet the standard at the end of two months, an employee could be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including discharge. Raia's performance did improve and he was taken off the program.

* On October 8, 2002, Raia was given a written warning for allegedly refusing to fix a machine that had initially been worked on by another technician. According to Raia, he was told the repair was C.O.D. and the customer was cursing and yelling at him while he was only attempting to follow procedure.

* On November 29, 2002, Raia was given a warning for botching a valve replacement job when in fact he did not replace the valves but called his service advisor who then took five hours to figure how to replace the valves.

* In 2002, Todoro threatened Raia with physical danger when he found Raia working on a machine at a store and yelled at him ...


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